My Prog Hero: Scott Ian

He's the guitarist with thrash metal pioneers Anthrax, but Rush send him to wonderland every time

PROG #85, March 2018, transcribed by pwrwindows

"I got into Rush because I was 14 at the right time! As a kid growing up in New York City in the late 70s, I was constantly discovering new bands and Rush sounded like a more muscular Led Zeppelin to me, at least on their first couple of records. But Geddy Lee's bass playing was my biggest attraction to that band - that's what initially caught my ear because it was just so original and so punchy.

Is it too much of a cliche to say that 'La Villa Strangiato' is my favourite Rush song? As a kid who loved Tolkien, Hemispheres was right up my alley. How could I not like a concept record with a nine-and-a-half-minute instrumental and a song about trees? 'La Villa...' is just such an epic. It was just three guys who challenged themselves so hard by doing this; they certainly never took the easy route and I think that really shows in that song.

They never pigeonholed themselves as being one thing: they're Rush. We, as Anthrax, have always felt that same way. We started out as a heavy metal band but we've never been afraid to push the boundaries and go places that no other heavy metal band had gone. You have to do these things for yourself and hopefully everyone else will come along for the ride.

The other guys in Anthrax are even bigger Rush fans and that's one of the reasons we covered 'Anthem' on our 2013 Anthems EP. We've always wanted to do a Rush song and I think it was Charlie's [Benante, drums] idea to do that one. I would love to cover 'La Villa...' at some point as well. Geddy and Alex [Lifeson] heard our version of 'Anthem' and said they liked it, which was amazing to hear.

We almost ended up performing with Geddy at the Revolver Golden Gods Award Show but the logistics just didn't work out. In a weird way it was almost a relief because we would have been there with our jaws on the floor, staring at him the whole time and not bemg able to play our instruments. I think in hindsight it's better that it didn't happen!"

Anthrax's Kings Among Scotland DVD is out via Nuclear Blast on April 27. Scott Ian's book Access All Areas: Stories From A Hard Rock Life is out now.